Wednesday, Sept. 7 - Friday, Sept. 9 - Travel to, and first day in Malta

We left home about 6:30 pm and drove to Maplewood where we left our car and were driven to Newark Airport by Elizabeth and Ellen. We got there three hours early, which was unnecessary. Flight on time (left about 10:30 pm) and not too bad as we each had three seats to ourselves. As usual the food was terrible and the seats abominable. A three hour layover in Milan and then a short flight to Malta. (Snack on this plane was an ice cream cone!) We got through passport control and shared a cab into Valetta with Betty and Keith Young who we met while waiting. (18 hours door to door with 10 hours in the air.) I got some money and made an error by getting too much in Maltese liras, or so I thought until I found out how expensive things ere in Malta.

Hotel Le Meridien Phoenicia is just outside the main gates to Valetta in Floriana and overlooks the large circle where all the busses are hubbed. Our room was quite luxurious and large. We took a bath/shower, dressed, and went to the Brasserie Pegasus in the hotel. Very good dinner but expensive, even though this is supposed to be the economical choice there. Then we took a walk across the circle and into the city gate a ways before returning to the hotel for bed at about 10:00 pm. Fig 001a is a map of Malta and Valetta is the sawtooth pattern on the Northeast side of Malta. Fig 001b is a close-up showing the main peninsula with Valetta the eastward end, the hotel just outside the wall, and the other two smaller peninsulas which were the only cities there when the Great Siege occurred in 1656. Valetta was built after the siege.


Grand Harbou


Valetta

The next morning we got an early start after breakfast at the hotel. They provide a very big spread in buffet fashion. Then about 9:00 am we were off to see Valetta. The day turned out to be very hot and sunny as was true for much of the trip. We went to the tourist office and got a pamphlet for a walking tour but we quickly found that this was too much for our limited time and energy. We stopped off first at the church of St James Charlier and then walked to the Upper Barrakka Garden for some great views of Vittoriosa and Sanglea, the siege towns. We also went down to the lower level gardens briefly, and that's when we decided to abandon the walking tour. Figs 002 -006.

So we went off to see the prime attractions in a huge crowd of tourists who were pouring through the gate like a river. We went first to see the church of St Barbara. Fig 006a. Then on to the National Archeological Museum which has very good exhibits about the antiquities in Malta. Figure 007 shows some exhibits taken from the Hagar Qim site that we would see the next day. Figs 008-010 show some of the artifacts found there and in the Hypogeoum that we would visit that afternoon. These are the famous "Ladies" of Malta which are often called Venus figures and goddesses. Evidently, for some of them, the sex is not clearly determined.

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001a 001b 002 003 004
001a.jpg
Map of Malta and Gozo
001b.jpg
Valetta and Environs
002.jpg
Upper Barrakka Gardens
003.jpg
Upper Barrakka Gardens
004.jpg
View of Vittoriosa and Senglea
005 006 006a 007 008
005.jpg
Lower Barrakka Garden
006.jpg
Looking East
006a.jpg 007.jpg
Museum of Archeology
008.jpg
Ladies of Malta